- Category : Political
- Type : GE
- Profile : 2/4 - Hermit / Opportunist
- Definition : Triple Split
- Incarnation Cross : RAX Service 3
Lech Wa??sa (born 29 September 1943) is a Polish politician, trade-union organizer, and human-rights activist.
A charismatic leader, he co-founded Solidarity (Solidarno??), the Soviet bloc's first independent trade union, won the Nobel Peace Prize in 1983, and served as President of Poland between 1990 and 1995.
Wa??sa was an electrician by trade. Soon after beginning work at the Gda?sk (then, "Lenin") Shipyards, he became a dissident trade-union activist. For this he was persecuted by the communist authorities, placed under surveillance, fired in 1976, and arrested several times. In August 1980 he was instrumental in political negotiations that led to the ground-breaking Gda?sk Agreement between striking workers and the government. He became a co-founder of the Solidarity trade-union movement. Arrested again after martial law was imposed in Poland and Solidarity was outlawed, upon release he continued his activism and was prominent in the establishment of the 1989 Round Table Agreement that led to semi-free parliamentary elections in June 1989 and to a Solidarity-led government.
In 1990 he successfully ran for the 1989-newly re-established office of President of Poland. He presided over Poland's transformation from a communist to a post-communist state, but his popularity waned. After he narrowly lost the 1995 presidential election, his role in Polish politics was diminished. However, his international fame remains. Wa??sa continues to speak and lecture in Poland and abroad on history and politics.
Wa??sa was born in Popowo, Poland.His father Boles?aw was a carpenter who was arrested by the Nazis before Lech was born and thrown into the concentration camp at Mlyniec. Boleslaw returned home after the war but lived only two months before succumbing to exhaustion and illness - he was not yet 34 years old. His mother Feliksa, born Kamienska, has been credited with shaping her son's beliefs and tenacity.
In 1961 Lech graduated from primary and vocational school in nearby Chalin and Lipno as a qualified electrician, worked from 1961 to 1965 as a car mechanic, then embarked on his two year obligatory stint of military service, attaining the rank of corporal, before beginning work at the Lenin Shipyard in Gda?sk, Stocznia Gda?ska im. Lenina, now the Gda?sk Shipyard, Stocznia Gda?ska, as an electrician on 12 July 1967.
On 8 December 1969 he married Danuta Go?o?. The couple have eight children: Bogdan, S?awomir, Przemys?aw, Jaros?aw, Magdalena, Anna, Maria-Wiktoria, Brygida.[
From early on, Wa??sa was interested in workers' concerns; in 1968 he encouraged shipyard colleagues to boycott official rallies that condemned recent student strikes. A charismatic leader,he was an organizer of the illegal 1970 strikes at the Gda?sk Shipyard (the Polish 1970 protests) when workers protested the government's decree raising food prices; he was considered for chairman of the strike committee. The strikes' outcome, involving over 30 worker deaths, galvanized his views on the need for change. In June 1976, Wa??sa lost his job at the Gda?sk Shipyards for his continued involvement in illegal unions, strikes and a campaign to commemorate the victims of the 1970 protests. Afterwards, he worked as an electrician for several other companies, but was continually laid off for his activism and was jobless for long periods.He and his family were under constant surveillance by the Polish secret police; his home and workplace were always bugged. Over the next few years, he was arrested several times for participating in dissident activities.
Wa??sa worked closely with the Workers' Defence Committee (KOR), a group that emerged to lend aid to individuals arrested after 1976 labor strikes and to their families. In June 1978 he became an activist of the underground Free Trade Unions of the Coast (Wolne Zwi?zki Zawodowe Wybrze?a).On 14 August 1980, after another food-price hike led to a strike at the Lenin Shipyard in Gda?sk—a strike of which he was one of the instigators—Wa??sa scaled the shipyard fence and, once inside, quickly became one of the strike leaders. The strike inspired some similar strikes, first at Gda?sk, then across Poland. Wa??sa headed the Inter-Plant Strike Committee, coordinating the workers at Gda?sk and at 20 other plants in the region. On 31 August, the communist government, represented by Mieczys?aw Jagielski, signed an accord (the Gda?sk Agreement) with the Strike Coordinating Committee.[The agreement, besides granting the Lenin Shipyard workers the right to strike, permitted them to form their own independent trade union. The Strike Coordinating Committee legalized itself as the National Coordinating Committee of the Solidarno?? (Solidarity) Free Trade Union, and Wa??sa was chosen chairman of the Committee. The Solidarity trade union quickly grew, ultimately claiming over 10 million members—more than a quarter of Poland's population. Wa??sa's role in the strike, in the negotiations, and in the newly formed independent trade union gained him fame on the international stage.
Wa??sa held his position until 13 December 1981, when General Wojciech Jaruzelski declared martial law. Wa??sa, like many other Solidarity leaders and activists, was arrested; he would be incarcerated for 11 months at several eastern towns (Chylice, Otwock, and Ar?amów, near the Soviet border) until 14 November 1982.On 8 October 1982, Solidarity was outlawed. In 1983 Wa??sa applied to return to the Gda?sk Shipyard as a simple electrician. That same year, he was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize. He was unable to accept it himself, fearing that Poland's government would not let him back into the country. His wife Danuta accepted the prize on his behalf.
Through the mid-1980s, Wa??sa continued underground Solidarity-related activities. Every issue of the leading underground weekly, Tygodnik Mazowsze, bore his motto, "Solidarity will not be divided or destroyed." Following a 1986 amnesty for Solidarity activists, Wa??sa co-founded the first overt legal Solidarity entity since the declaration of martial law—the Provisional Council of NSZZ Solidarity (Tymczasowa Rada NSZZ Solidarno??). From 1987 to 1990, he organized and led the "semi-illegal" Provisional Executive Committee of the Solidarity Trade Union. In late summer 1988, he instigated work-stoppage strikes at the Gda?sk Shipyard.
After months of strikes and political deliberations, at the conclusion of the 10th plenary session of the Polish United Workers' Party (PZPR, the Polish communist party), the government agreed to enter into Round Table Negotiations that lasted from February to April 1989. Wa??sa was an informal leader of the "non-governmental" side in the negotiations. During the talks, he traveled the length and breadth of Poland, giving speeches in support of the negotiations. At the end of the talks, the government signed an agreement to re-establish the Solidarity Trade Union and to organize "semi-free" elections to the Polish parliament (semi-free since, in accordance with the Round Table Agreement, only members of the Communist Party and its allies could stand for 65% of the seats in the Sejm).
In December 1988, Wa??sa co-founded the Solidarity Citizens' Committee. Theoretically it was merely an advisory body, but in practice it was a kind of political party and won the parliamentary elections in June 1989 (Solidarity took all the seats in the Sejm that were subject to free elections, and all but one seat in the newly re-established Senate). Wa??sa was one of Solidarity's most public figures; though he did not run for parliament himself, he was an active campaigner, appearing on many campaign posters. In fact, Solidarity winners in the Sejm elections were referred to as "Wa??sa's team" or "Lech's team," as all those who won had appeared on their election posters together with him.
While ostensibly only chairman of Solidarity, Wa??sa played a key role in practical politics. In August 1989, he persuaded leaders of former communist-allied parties to form a non-communist coalition government – the first non-Communist government in the Soviet Bloc. The parliament elected Tadeusz Mazowiecki as prime minister – the first non-communist Polish prime minister in over four decades.
Following the June 1989 parliamentary elections, Wa??sa was disappointed that some of his former comrades-in-arms were satisfied to govern alongside former communists. He decided to run for the newly re-established office of president, using the slogan, "I don't want to, but I've got no choice" ("Nie chcem, ale muszem."). On 9 December 1990, Wa??sa won the presidential election, defeating Prime Minister Mazowiecki and other candidates to become the first democratically elected president of Poland. In 1993 he founded his own political party, the Nonpartisan Bloc for Support of Reforms (BBWR – the initials echoed those of Józef Pi?sudski's "Nonpartisan Bloc for Cooperation with the Government," of 1928–35, likewise an ostensibly non-political organization).
During his presidency, Wa??sa saw Poland through privatization and transition to a free-market economy (the Balcerowicz Plan), Poland's 1991 first completely free parliamentary elections, and a period of redefinition of Poland's foreign relations. He successfully negotiated the withdrawal of Soviet troops from Polish soil and won a substantial reduction in Poland's foreign debts.
Wa??sa supported Poland's entry into NATO and into the European Union (both these goals would be realized after his presidency, in 1999 and 2004, respectively).In the early 1990s, Wa??sa proposed the creation of a "NATO bis" as a sub-regional security system. The concept, while supported by right-wing and populist movements in Poland, garnered little support abroad; Poland's neighbors, some of whom (e.g., Lithuania) had only recently regained independence, tended to see the proposal as Polish "neo-imperialism."[
Wa??sa has been criticized for a confrontational style and for instigating "war at the top," whereby former Solidarity allies clashed with one another, causing annual changes of government. This increasingly isolated Wa??sa on the political scene. As he lost more and more political allies, he came to be surrounded by people who were viewed by the public as incompetent and disreputable. Mudslinging during election campaigns tarnished his reputation. The ex-electrician with no higher education was thought by some to be too plain-spoken and too undignified for the post of president. Others thought him too erratic in his views or complained that he was too authoritarian – that he sought to strengthen his own power at the expense of the Sejm. Jacek Merkel, Wa??sa's national security advisor, credited the shortcomings of Wa??sa's presidency to Wa??sa's inability to comprehend the office of the president as an institution. Finally, Wa??sa's problems were compounded by the difficult transition to a market economy; while in the long run it was seen as highly successful, it lost Wa??sa's government much popular support.
Wa??sa's BBWR performed poorly in the 1993 parliamentary elections; at times his popular support dwindled to some 10%, and he narrowly lost the 1995 presidential election, gathering 48.72% of the vote in the run-off against Aleksander Kwa?niewski, who represented the resurgent Polish post-communists (the Democratic Left Alliance, SLD). Wa??sa's fate was sealed by his poor handling of the media; in the televised debates, he came off as incoherent and rude; at the end of the first of the two debates, in response to Kwa?niewski's extended hand, he replied that the post-communist leader could "shake his leg." After the election, Wa??sa said he was going to go into "political retirement," and his role in politics became increasingly marginal.
Since the end of his presidency, Wa??sa has lectured on Central European history and politics at various universities and organizations. In 1996 he founded the Lech Wa??sa Institute, a think tank whose mission is to support democracy and local governments in Poland and throughout the world. In 1997 he helped organize a new party, Christian Democracy of the 3rd Polish Republic; he also supported the coalition Solidarity Electoral Action (Akcja Wyborcza Solidarno??), which won the 1997 parliamentary elections. However, the party's real leader and main organizer was a new Solidarity Trade Union leader, Marian Krzaklewski. Wa??sa ran again in the 2000 presidential election, but received only 1% of the vote. During Poland's 2005 presidential elections, Wa??sa supported Donald Tusk, saying that he was the best candidate
In 2006 Wa??sa quit Solidarity, citing differences over the union's support of the Law and Justice party, and the rise to power of Lech and Jaros?aw Kaczy?ski. On 27 February 2008, at Methodist DeBakey Heart and Vascular Center, in Houston, Texas, in the United States, Wa??sa underwent a coronary artery stent placement and the implantation of a cardiac pacemaker. In the run-up to the 2009 European Parliament elections, he appeared at a rally in Rome to endorse the pan-European Eurosceptic party Libertas, describing it and its founder Declan Ganley as "a force for good in the world." Wa??sa admitted that he had been paid to give the speech but claimed to support Civic Platform, while expressing the hope that Libertas candidates would be elected to the European Parliament.
He is member of the international advisory council of the Victims of Communism Memorial Foundation and a recipient of the Truman-Reagan Medal of Freedom, along with Anna Walentynowicz and John Paul II.
In 2011 Wa??sa wrote an article claiming that only communism is a viable temporary solution for the poor African countries in 21st century.
Over the years, Wa?esa has been accused of having been an informer for the Polish secret police S?u?ba Bezpiecze?stwa (SB) in the early 1970s, codenamed "Bolek". Although this was long before Wa??sa emerged as a hero of the Solidarity, questions remain whether it had an effect on his later decisions; for example, making him a probable target of blackmail. On 11 August 2000, the Warsaw Appellate Court, V Wydzia? Lustracyjny, declared that Wa??sa's lustration statement was true – that he had not collaborated with the communist regime. Nonetheless, periodically the question resurfaces.
A 2008 book by historians from the Institute of National Remembrance (IPN), S?awomir Cenckiewicz and Piotr Gontarczyk, presenting new evidence, received substantial coverage in the media, provoked a hot nation-wide debate, and was noted by the international press. The book is seen by some as very controversial; however, it contains over 130 pages of documents from archives of the secret police (which were inherited by the IPN) to support its claims, and Cenckiewicz defended his discoveries on a factual basis. Janusz Kurtyka, president of the Institute of National Remembrance at the time, staunchly affirmed the thesis of the book while admitting that it does not contain a "hundred-percent" proof that Wa??sa was the agent Bolek, as some of the documents went missing during Wa??sa's presidency of Poland (1990–1995). He expressed hope the book would be subject to a wider debate.
In his autobiography A Way of Hope, Wa??sa admitted that he did not come out clean from his interrogations in the aftermath of the December 1970 strikes and in subsequent conversations have admitted that he and his family were threatened by security agents. At times he has said that he has tried to outwit his interrogators, although historians have observed it would have been an impossible self-delusion with more than a hundred agents assigned to dissident leaders. He has denied having been "Bolek"; or that he has collaborated with the secret police, which seems to be the case after 1978 when he became a member of the Coastal WZZ [Free Trade Union]. His most dramatic refusal to cooperate with the regime came shortly after the introduction of martial law when he rejected the offer to head regime controlled Solidarity, which would have been a major blow to the popular dissident movement.
Others have noted that the Polish secret police commonly falsified their own top secret reports (known as fa?szywkas in Polish) in order to ruin the good name of prominent individuals. In November 2009 Wa??sa sued the then president of Poland, Lech Kaczy?ski, over his having repeated the collaboration allegations.
On 15 April 2010, during a civil trial brought by Wa??sa against former fellow activist Krzysztof Wyszkowski over the collaboration allegations, a retired MO and S?u?ba Bezpiecze?stwa officer appeared in court and confirmed the fact of Wa??sa's collaboration in a sworn testimony. The officer, Janusz Stachowiak, was in charge of keeping documentation on Wa??sa from December 1970 to 1974, although never met him in person. He stated that Wa??sa was convinced to cooperate by SB Capt. Henryk Rapczy?ski and SB Capt. Edward Graczyk, after a two-hour interrogation, albeit without the use of threats, and signed an agreement to keep his cooperation with SB in secret.The officers asked him to "calm down" the atmosphere in the shipyard after protests were bloodily suppressed. Wa??sa kept meeting regularly with the secret police, reportedly receiving substantial sums of money, but after about 4 months he started to "withdraw" (although it was not until June 1976 when he was unregistered, because of his "reluctance to cooperate").
Previously, in 2008, Capt. Edward Graczyk (long thought to be deceased and as such not summoned to testify in the 2000 trial) was interrogated by the IPN about his contacts with Wa??sa[ and subsequently interviewed by Gazeta Wyborcza. In the interview, which somewhat contradicts his earlier testimony, Graczyk recounted Wa??sa's cooperation, but denied his own actions had been "recruitment" of an agent. He also denied giving money to Wa??sa. The other of the two officers, Capt. Henryk Rapczy?ski, was never interrogated.
On 22 December 2011, it was reported that the Polish National Remembrance Institute had determined that communist secret security had forged documents in the 1980s that suggested Wa??sa was their agent. Perhaps the most controversial act was the wanton destruction of government files, which occurred during the Wa??sa presidency, which some have argued have contributed to legal distortions and derailing of lustration in free Poland.
Wa??sa is a devout Roman Catholic and a staunch opponent of abortion, and has said that he would rather have resigned the presidency twenty times than sign into law a bill permitting abortion in Poland. In an interview for Polish television in 2012, Wa??sa said that, as a Catholic, he opposes in vitro fertilization and same-sex marriage, adding that if his son were a homosexual he would pray for him to stop going down the wrong road.
He has also said that he is interested in information technology and likes to use new developments in that field. He has stated that he has assembled several computers to find out how they work and takes a smartphone, a palmtop, and a laptop with him when traveling. Early in 2006 he revealed that he is a registered user of the Polish instant-messaging service Gadu-Gadu, and was granted a new special user number – 1980. Later that year, he also said that he used Skype, his "handle" being lwprezydent 2006.t is rumored that around 1980 Gillette offered him $1,000,000 to shave off his trademark moustache in a commercial, but that he refused. A couple of years later, though, he surprised the public by shaving off the mustache for personal reasons.
Lech Wa??sa's Coat of arms assigned by the Heraldic Authority of the Kingdom of Sweden on the occasion of the gift of the Royal Order of the Seraphim. According to the intentions of the designer, Adam Heymowskiego, it refers to Polish national colors and the coat of arms of Gda?sk, of which one of the crosses was replaced by a fleur-de-lis, symbol of Our Lady of Cz?stochowa
Apart from his 1983 Nobel Peace Prize, Wa??sa has received many other international distinctions and awards. He has been named "Man of the Year" by Time Magazine (1981), The Financial Times (1980) and The Observer (1980). He was the first recipient of the Liberty Medal, on 4 July 1989 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, and that same year received the Presidential Medal of Freedom. He is the only Pole to have addressed a joint meeting of the United States Congress (15 November 1989).
On 8 February 2002, Wa??sa represented Europe, carrying the Olympic flag at the opening ceremonies of the XIX Olympic Winter Games in Salt Lake City, in company with Archbishop Desmond Tutu (Africa), John Glenn (the Americas), Kazuyoshi Funaki (Asia), Cathy Freeman (Oceania), Jean-Michel Cousteau (Environment), Jean-Claude Killy (Sport), and Steven Spielberg (Culture). Two years later, on 10 May 2004, Gda?sk International Airport was officially renamed Gda?sk Lech Wa??sa Airport to commemorate a famous Gda?sk citizen, and his signature was incorporated into the airport's logo.
A month later, in June 2004, Wa??sa represented Poland at the state funeral of Ronald Reagan. On 11 October 2006, Wa??sa was keynote speaker at the launch of "International Human Solidarity Day," proclaimed in 2005 by the United Nations General Assembly. In January 2007 Wa??sa spoke at a Taiwan event, "Towards a Global Forum on New Democracies," in support of peace and democracy, along with other prominent world leaders and Taiwan's President Chen Shui-bian.
On 25 April 2007, Wa??sa represented the Polish government at the funeral of Boris Yeltsin, former President of the Russian Federation. On 23 October 2009, he spoke at a conference in Gda?sk of presidents of all European senates, commemorating the 20th anniversary of the first free parliamentary elections in a former communist country – the 1989 elections to the Polish Senate.
On 6 September 2011, Wa??sa rejected Lithuania's Order of Vytautas the Great as a result of alleged discrimination on the part of the Lithuanian government towards its Polish minority.
Wa??sa has been portrayed in numerous works of popular culture. In Volker Schlöndorff's film Strike, a character based on Wa??sa was played by Polish actor Andrzej Chyra. He was portrayed by Bernard Hill in the 1984 TV production of Tom Stoppard's Squaring the Circle. Wa??sa played himself in Andrzej Wajda's 1981 Golden Palm-winning film about Solidarity, Man of Iron. While this was perhaps his best-known movie appearance, he has played himself in some 20 other productions.
In the 1990s two satirical Polish songs, "Nie wierzcie elektrykom" ("Don't Trust Electricians") by Big Cyc, and "Wa??sa, gdzie moje 100 000 000" ("Wa??sa, Where's My 100,000,000 [z?otych]?") by Kazik Staszewski, were major hits in Poland, and another song about Wa??sa was composed in 2009 by Holy Smoke. He also inspired U2's song "New Year's Day" on their War album. Coincidentally the Polish authorities lifted martial law on 1 January 1983, the very day that this single came out. Patrick Dailly's Solidarity, starring Kristen Brown as Wa??sa, was premiered by the San Francisco Cabaret Opera in Berkeley and Oakland, California, in September and October 2009.
Wa??sa has been the subject of dozens of books and articles. He himself has authored three books: Droga nadziei (The Road of Hope, 1987), Droga do wolno?ci (The Road to Freedom, 1991), and Wszystko, co robi?, robi? dla Polski (All That I Do, I Do for Poland, 1995).